Polls That Count

NDP Orange or “Progressive”?

Albertans awakened to a dreary, overcast morning with rain showers on Tuesday following election day in the province. The incumbent Progressive Conservatives will form another majority government. (Emphasis added. The Progressive Movement emphasizes social reform with a heavy hand of government doing the reforming for you, i.e. by force.)

Election day on the other hand was an unusually warm and optimistic spring day for this latitude. Good turnouts in both advance and election-day polling appeared to bode well for the fledgling Wildrose party, touted variously as real conservatives, right-wing extremists or libertarians, depending mainly on who was making the observation.

Polling agencies had the Wildrose party clearly in the lead right up to the night before the election and indeed it looked very much that a major upset was on the way. The prevailing view of those interpreting these polls was that traditionally conservative Alberta was very unhappy with the Progressive Conservative dynasty of the past 41 years. Since the advent of leader Alison Redford—the first female Premier and one with a reputation for rallying the left and/or Progressive end of the party—there has been a marked preference for an interventionist State replete with more social legislation.

Ezra Levant of the Sun News Network was one such interpreter of the pre-election polls who as a Wildrose supporter was as sunny and optimistic as the weather on Monday. This morning he reported that he was having “Crow Benedict” for breakfast. He did not feel too bad about it though because he was taking the polls at face value. There is the real story. The only poll that counts is the one on election day. Professional pollsters will certainly be taking a look at their methodology this morning.

Mr. Levant speculated that Alison Redford had succeeded again in rallying the left over the weekend. Members of the Liberal and New Democratic parties and perhaps to a lesser extent the small Alberta party may have turned out to vote for anything but Wildrose, thus devastating the latter overnight. Maybe.

Redford has a record of political chicanery however. During the leadership convention, in which she took over from Ed Stelmach when the party finally decided collectively that he had to go, Ms. Redford was low in the balloting at fourth place. She was able to appeal to a lot of “independent” teachers who took out a party membership in order to vote for her. She further apparently traded promises of beneficial accommodation to education in the wake of budget cuts that Mr. Stelmach’s administration had introduced.

When Redford became Premier, she paid back the teachers with more money for education thus saving jobs for union teachers. Does anyone seriously believe that the unions, particularly the teachers union did not play a major role in election turnout with votes for a party and a leader that should more properly be renamed simply as Progressive?

There was also a lot of political smearing during the campaign. Wildrose was projected as a party that would for example, privatize health care (oh, the horror). Three generations of Canadians have lived with socialized medicine and can’t imagine it any other way. It frightens them to hear “privatization”. Redford labelled Danielle Smith and Wildrose as frightening to her.

Many factors come into play during elections for governments that are too involved in the lives of private citizens. A conflict-laden society has evolved and thus no one can ever predict the result until the fight is over and the casualties counted.

©Copyright 2012 Edward Podritske

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